Friday, April 30, 2010

What's for Dinner? Grilled Potato Packets

I have made these a number of times but this was the first time I made them with Olive Oil instead of butter.

I also have learned that a consistent dice of the vegetables is critical to these packets.

I used about 8 medium sized Brown Potatoes, 2 green peppers, and 1 medium yellow onion.

Dice them with a small dice and throw them in a large bowl.

Coat evenly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I pore some on then stir and add more as needed.  It's probably about 1/4 of a cup.

Shake on some Lawry's Season Salt to taste.  Really don't know how much I used.  I lightly covered the top of the potato mixture and stirred then lightly covered and stirred and lightly covered and stirred.  That's three times!

Lay out a piece of tinfoil and spoon in the potato mixture.  Then close up the packet tightly.  I ended up with 9 packets.

Preheat your grill on high for about 5 minutes.

Place packets on the grill with the heat on HIGH for about 10 minutes on each side.

They will smoke a bit if the Olive Oil is able to drip out.

This served the entire family of 4 adults and 3 children and there were about 2 servings left over.

We all were in agreement that they were the best yet!  And the kids loved the green peppers.

If you have not tried to feed your kids green peppers yet, go do that right now!  And then make the potato packets and let me know what your family thinks!


Silly Heidi - Picture Two

Here we go again!

What is this child doing?

Again, no junk drawer prizes like Ree over at Pioneer Woman but feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's For Dinner? Pork Steak

I love Lawry's marinades and season salt.  I use the season salt on just about everything, including my world famous onions and potatoes, and the marinades are so convenient and cost effective.

So Lawry's Signature Steakhouse Marinade was a logical choice when I decided to grill Pork Steaks for the very first time.

I like to thaw the meat in the marinade because I think it absorbs better.  I have no factual information to back this up, it's just what I think.

I should also mention that I have not been asked by Lawry's to write this post.  I just really like their products!

This was super easy.  I placed the frozen steaks in a large mixing bowl and covered them with the marinade.  Then I covered the bowl and let the steaks thaw.

Preheat the grill on HIGH for about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to Med-High and place the steaks on the grill.  Now, these are pork so they need to be at least medium to well done.  Mine had a bone in them so keep that in mind if yours don't (bone in takes longer to cook then boneless).

Place the steaks on the grill for 10 minutes on each side.  If you want the fancy marks on one side all you have to do is give the steak a quarter turn after 3 minutes on the first side.

Look how huge that steak is!  That's a full sized dinner plate.  I grilled 4 of these, served 4 adults and 3 children, and had one left over.

We all enjoyed the pork steaks.  The kids even had seconds!

Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!

Hotel Bed Jumping

We were invited to a birthday party for our friends little boy, Corey.

Happy Birthday Big Guy!!

The party was at a hotel with a pool with tons of kids stuff in it.  Like two kid sized water slides and those buckets that drop water on your head.  All of the kids had a blast!

After swimming, pizza, cake, and presents, Heidi decided it was time to teach the birthday boy how to jump from bed to bed.

First, you have to check out the bounce in the bed.  

Let Emily show you the moves!

Now, for your first jump, let's do it together!  1, 2, 3!

Great job Corey!!!

Thanks for inviting us to your party!  Hope you had a great time and a wonderful 3rd birthday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's For Dinner - Sweet Potato Fries

I recently discovered Sweet Potato Fries.  They are very yummy and a nice change from regular potatoes.

This is an easy recipe for Sweet Potato Fries.
3 large sweet potatoes or yams
Olive Oil
Onion Powder

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into fries no larger than 1/4 inch thick.
Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl.
Cover lightly with Olive Oil (Extra virgin).  It's probably about 1/4 a cup, maybe a bit less than that.  You don't want them to look super greasy, just lightly coated.
Add 1 teaspoon of Paprika, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, and a pinch of salt to the bowl and toss well until evenly coated.
Place the fries on a baking sheet so they are not touching each other to much.  I like to line my sheet with tinfoil simply because it makes clean up 100 times easier. 
3 large sweet potatoes will probably cover 2 baking sheets.
Place them in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  It is totally your preference if you preheat the oven or not.  Not preheating will save some gas and will not change how the fries turn out.  Some people are die hard preheaters.
After 25 minutes flip the fries over and put them back in the oven for another 25 minutes. 
Every time I have made these they turn out a bit limp.  Not crunchy like a brown potato fry. 
I really like these fries.  I think they have great flavor and, like I said, they are a nice change from the regular french fry.
However, Jess, the 5 year old boy, and I are the only ones who eat them.
The other two kids have tried them a few times and don't care for them.
The two male adults in the house don't care for them either.  Even when we cooked them in bacon fat that one time.
I suggest you give them a shot but if you don't think everyone is going to like them maybe try making 1/2 a batch the first time.  Yams and Sweet Potatoes are pretty inexpensive so it's a cheep side dish to try and you don't have to feel to bad if you end up feeding some of them to the dog.
Oh, and I should mention I don't like mashed sweet potatoes (the kind dad makes for holidays) and I should also mention that my dogs love these.
Ok, go enjoy!  Report back what you think!

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

I am going to the Green Living Expo at the State Fair Grounds on Sunday May 2nd.

It's free and open to the public.  Last year we filled out a very short questionnaire for Chipotle and received a free lunch so it was like we got paid to go!  Plus it was a lot of fun.

Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's For Dinner? Chicken Rollups

I love this recipe.  I ran across it in a magazine.  I think it was in an ad for Ragu or Prego.

I change the ingredients just about every time I use this based on what I have in the fridge.  This is what I used this time:
6 chicken breast fillets pounded to 1/4 inch thick
6 slices of provolone cheese (I have used swiss before with fantastic results)
12 slices of sandwich sliced Pepperoni (I have used traditional pepperoni before and it works just as well.  I find the sandwich slices easier to work with.)
18 asparagus spears
Pasta Sauce (I have used all different kinds.  A smoky sauce with mushrooms is wonderful.  This time I used a Margherita sauce and it was YUM!)
Parmesan Cheese

If you break this down into a per serving list it's 1 piece of chicken, 1 slice of cheese, 3 asparagus spears, and 2 pepperoni slices.

Lay out the Chicken, layer on 1 slice of cheese then 2 slices of pepperoni (off set so the pepperoni covers most of the chicken), place the asparagus spears in the middle then roll up and secure with a tooth pick.

Place the chicken roll up in a baking dish and cover with sauce and Parmesan Cheese.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes.

I missed getting a final picture because I had help setting the table and the dish was whisked away quickly.  Who am I to complain for help with dinner?

The verdict - everyone loved it!
3 adults LOVED it and wish they were able to have more
1 picky adult liked it and didn't notice the asparagus
I should mention that Shawn does not like roasted asparagus, Jess and I love it, and Ryan had never tried it but we all really liked it in this recipe.

The kids:
5 year old girl - LOVED it and ate an entire piece.  This is the girl who hardly ever clears her plate.
5 year old boy - liked it and ate most of his serving
4 year old girl - picked up the cheese and pepperoni, left the chicken and asparagus on her plate.

Over all it was a hit.  The last time I made this I had a small bowl of small portabella mushrooms that were about to turn so I sautéed them in a small bit of olive oil and added them to the inside of the chicken (basically I put them on top of the asparagus).  I will do that again!

I suggest you follow this recipe as it's listed above and then make variations as you desire.  If you do not like asparagus, you may suprise yourself with this one!

Let me know how your family likes it.

How to Cheer Up A Trash Star

How do you cheer up one crabby Trash Star?

Here's a hint:

It has been Heidi's life long dream to ride in a Garbage Truck.  This girl has been enamored by garbage trucks since she was old enough to see more than just what's shoved in her face.

When she went to daycare at Pat's all of the kids would climb in the window every Friday morning and wave at "The Man."

If we were outside when "The Man" drove by she would wave and hope he would see her to wave back.

Imagine her excitement when we got to ride in a real garbage truck over the weekend!
 She was beside herself!  Now, mind you, this girl had had the opportunity to sit in a large number of vehicles.  From Semi Trucks to Police Cars to scooters.  But she was never as excited as she was to ride in this Garbage Truck!

Apparently the "Garbage Man" is a green garbage company.  They have smaller trucks that are easier on the streets and they take all of their waste to the incinerator.  They also have a yard waste service.  This is not a plug for them as they are not my service but they were nice enough to drive us around the block!

 And Grandpa was nice enough to take some pictures.

I wonder if this garbage man knew he would make a 5 year old girl's live long dream come true today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's for Dinner? Peanut Butter Bars

Over the weekend we had dinner at my parents house.  About a hour before we were to head over I thought it would be nice to bring a dessert?

I rummaged my cupboards and found this recipe on the back of the Betty Crocker Peanut Butter cookie package.

Honestly this was much easier than making cookies.  And in a house where Peanut Butter and Chocolate is considered a food group it was well received.

Ingredients list:
1 Package Peanut Butter Cookie mix
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
2 cups Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray - I like Pam Olive Oil Spray

In large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until soft dough forms. Press into pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on High 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted. Spread evenly over base. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows

 I was able to throw these together and let them cool enough to plate them in under an hour.  When I arrived at my dad's house I put them back in the fridge for a few minutes (and to hide them from everyone until after dinner!)

Joe Mauer? Is That You?

A series of statues to commerate the Twins 60 years as a franchise were placed around the Downtown area.

The one in front of the Target Store on Nicollet Mall was the first.  It's Joe Mauer covered in 1962 news paper articles.

Gretchen and I had to get our picture with him!

I believe they are being auctioned off and the proceeds will go to the Twins Community Fund.  I am on the look out for them around town and hope to get more pictures!

I wonder why they are all Joe Mauer...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

What do you all have planned this weekend?

Today, Saturday April 26th, we are participating in the Watershed Clean Up in celebration of Earth Day.  If you want to join us you can find all the details here

If you don't live the area, find something to do today to celebrate Earth Day.  Plant a tree.  Check your communities website for organized clean up efforts.  Go to a park with a trash bag and clean up with your friends.

Then Heidi has gymnastics.  We really enjoy the Brooklyn Center Gymnastics program.

Later in the day we will check out the Brooklyn Center Earth Fest at the high school.  I am not sure what it's all about but I have the impression it's a vendor fair.  Should be a good time.

On Sunday we are going to hit up the BC Lion's Pancake Breakfast, also at the high school.  We are so happy they are bringing back the Puppet Playhouse this summer we have to go support them!

And then there are the boring things like picking up the house, watering the plants, planning my menu for the week, and grocery shopping.

I am working hard to come up with some new recpies for my new "What's For Dinner" feature.  I am not inventing recipes, I am simply making ones I find online and in cookbooks and then posting about how they go over with my family in hopes of making meal planning a bit easier for you!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's for Dinner? Only the BEST Lasagna Ever!

Really.  The. Best. Lasagna. Ever.

I had never made lasagna from scratch before Wednesday night.  I was up for the challenge and in the end very impressed.

This is yet another recipe from the Pioneer Woman archives.  She posts a million pictures with this one and her recipes are so easy to follow.  I suggest if you are going to try this out you jump over there (after you read my review!)

I like to take all of the necessary ingredients out before I start preparing a meal.  Too many times I have been half way through prep only to find out the egg carton in the fridge is empty.

This is everything you need.  Plus the laptop because that's they best way to view Ree's photo recipes.

Hmmm.... I wonder if Shawn will notice the greasy fingerprints on the touch pad?  Oh, well.  I will just remind him that he would not have had The Best Lasagna Ever if I did not have his laptop in the kitchen.

I am very economical when it comes to cooking.  Note the cub brand lasagna noodles.

I should point out how long this recipe took to prepare.  Shawn was able to change the breaks on the van in the time I put this together.  I started pulling everything out of the fridge at 5:30 and we sat down to eat at 7:15.  It was totally worth it but next time this will not be something I make on a night I get home from work late.

There are seven stages to making this lasagna.

First make the sauce. That sauce is the key to this recipe.  I am going to make it again and put it on a pizza crust.  YUM!  It needs to simmer for 45 minutes.  I would not shorten that time if at all possible.

Second, boil your noodles.  I left them very al dente and they finished cooking nicely in the oven.

Third, assemble the lasagna and put in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly. 

Fourth, go outside and spend the next 25 to 30 minutes humoring the wacko's who live in your house by taking pictures of them while they act like super models in their rain boots.

Technically, the forth stage is optional.  But I suggest you do this because it's a lot of fun.

Fifth, return to the kitchen and remove this from your oven

Sixth, enjoy and try not to eat the entire pan

Seven, come back to my blog and thank me for linking you to this recipe.

I served this with a side salad and Garlic Bread.

Okay, so I am sure you already know how this review is going to turn out but here it is anyway!
The four adults LOVED it and all agreed it was the best they ever had.
The extra teenager who showed up for dinner LOVED it and took home a left over piece.
5 Year Old Boy cleared his plate.
5 Year Old Girl ate more of this lasagna than she has ever eaten in her life. I should mention this particular child does not like red sauce.  To her, tomatoes should be fresh, not cooked.
4 Year Old Girl ate well but did not set any records

With this recipe we were able to feed:
4 adults, 1 teenage girl, 3 preschoolers and have leftovers for 2 adults and 1 teenager.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Here's the ingredient list.  Click this link for Ree's post and specific directions.
  • 1-½ pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage (Kara used Bob Evans Regular Sausage because some of the Preschooler do not like hot food)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese (Kara used 4% cottage cheese because that's what was in the house at the time)
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • ½ cups Grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese  (Kara planned to use 1 pound of cheese but ended up being 2 slices short so she used some shredded Mozzarella Cheese found in the cheese drawer.  It worked will but next time she will plan on a bit more than a pound of cheese.)
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles  (Kara had a 16 oz box so I used about 3/4's of the box, better to have more than not enough!!)
  • (add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)

Pete and the Ducks

Here's a trivia question. What state has the most shore line?

California? Hawaii? Nope.

It's Minnesota.

Yes, really. They call us the land of 10,000 lakes but the count is closer to 15,000 lakes. Then there are rivers and streams galore.

There is also an ordinance in the city of Minneapolis that states there must be a city park within 6 blocks of any house. This ordinance has been adopted by neighboring cities as well allowing for a lot of green space within our massive city.

All this water and green space attracts wildlife so it's not uncommon to see more than just the urban squirrel or bunny or raccoon.

Last week my brother had a deer snacking on something in his back yard.

A few years ago we almost hit a red fox while driving through our neighborhood.

Later that same summer I had to quickly change course on my bike when I saw a badger drinking from the creek.

Those all make for good stories.

So I was not shocked when I looked out the front window and saw a little duck family hanging out in the yard.

I was, however, amused to see how Pete reacted.

The ducks were hanging out at the corner of the yard.
They let me approach a bit but I had my camera on full zoom so I was not too close.
Here comes Pete.  At this distance he is very confident.
The half way point between the house and the street is this tree.  He runs up to the tree and stops to check out the ducks.  He is formulating a plan.
Pete sets his plan in action and starts approaching the ducks.
The pair of ducks have started to slowly move to the neighbors driveway.  Pete slows because he hears a noise. 
The Mallard turns and sees Pete and says "QUACK" - Abort!  Abort!! Pete blots back to the front steps.
Baby.  Couldn't even approach two ducks.
I guess he should stick to stalking the bees in the bathroom.  They don't quack at him.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's For Dinner? Steak, Pasta Salad, Corn

Tuesday I was really in the mood for a steak. YUM!

I like to buy No Name Steaks in the box because they are already marinated and very hard to mess up. Plus they way they are packaged the steaks keep in the freezer for a long time.


Thaw as many steaks as you need. We were serving 4 adults so I thawed 4 steaks.

Pound the steaks flat to be sure it will cook evenly. I do not have a mallet for the kitchen so I used a rolling pin.

Sprinkle both sides of each steak generously with Montreal Steak Seasoning.

Heat the grill to medium. Cook each side for 6 to 8 minutes for a medium steak.

Let the steaks rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Pasta Salad:

I wanted something summery to go with dinner. Something not as heavy as mashed potatoes. This is a quick and easy pasta salad I like to throw together.

Prepare a box of your favorite noodles

Rinse with cold water and throw in a bowl

Add some Italian Dressing and toss. Taste and add more if needed.

I like to throw in some chunked cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese and some sliced pepperoni. You could also add green peppers or black olives. Whatever floats your boat!

My nephew and I both really wanted corn on the cob but it's not in the stores yet so I just heated up a can of corn. I prefer frozen corn to canned but I need to use up what is in my cupboard!

This dinner is simple and a go to for us. We grilled the last of a package of hotdogs for the kids, which they loved.

Tonight I am trying a new Lasagna recipe. Check back tomorrow for that review...

Happy Earth Day 2010!

What are your plans for Earth Day?  Did you even know it's today?

Earth Day is not just for the Hippy Greeney folks.  It's for everyone!

To be Green is to be Socially Responsible.

Would you hold the door for a woman pushing a stroller?

Would you tell the man at Target that his ID fell out of his wallet?

Would you help the old lady pick up her dropped purse?

Those are all things we do as Socially Responsible people.  They are also things we do because we are polite.

Being Green is not really much different.

Pick up the napkin that dropped on the ground.

Put the soda can in the recycle container instead of the trash.

Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth.

So, what are you going to do for Earth Day?  If we all do our part and just pick up after ourselves or turn off the water or the lights or the TV the Earth will be around for may more generations.

Here are 6 very simple ways to be Socially Responsible (or Green):
1. When you are out walking the dog you are already carrying a bag to clean up after the dog.  Grab one a little bit bigger, like a plastic Target bag, and pick up trash that you see along the way.  Before you know it you have saved an entire bag of trash from ending up in the river and it didn't cost you anything.  Plus you can count the bending over as squats!

2. Dump extra water on the lawn instead of down the drain.  I am not talking about catching the water that comes out of your washing machine or even hauling the 5 gallons from the dehumidifier up a flight of stairs.  I am simply talking about the dog bowl, what left in that glass from last night, what you over measured cooking dinner.  Just step out the door and dump.  A little goes a long way!  I dump mine on my letuce right out the back door.

3.  Don't simply by an appliance just because it says Energy Star.  I recently learned that what it takes for an appliance to be certified Energy Star may also mean the life expentancy of that appliance is much shorter.  Make sure to look at the energy ratings on the appliance and talk to someone who knows about that Washing Machine.  It's better to spend $5 more a year on energy then to add a washer to the landfill every 4 years.  My point? Do your research!

4.  Turn off the lights and TV every time you leave the room.  Myth Busters busted the myth that it takes more energy to turn on a light then it does to leave it on for a few minutes.  BUSTED!  Hit the switch on the way out.

5.  We do not have a dish washer.  When I wash dishes (sometimes 3 times a day!) I fill the sink with hot soapy water.  I fill the sink with dishes.  I wash all of those dishes and place them in the other side of the sink.  Once that sink is full of clean but soapy dishes I rinse them all.  This way the water is not running the entire time to do the dishes.  It cuts the run time from 10 minutes down to 3 minutes.  And it's a simple change!

6.  Now, I realize this is not an option for everyone but it is one of my favorites.  Hang your laundry to dry.  At least hang your towels.  This saves me about 3 loads in my dryer very week.  That's a ton of gas and wear on my dryer.  If you just need to have fluffy towels, throw them back in the dryer on steam or fluff for 10 minutes and they are good as new.  But they smell a million times better when dried on a clothes line!

What did I do for Earth Day?  Well, I practice all six tips above on a daily basis.  This year, so far, we have planted 3 new trees (2 in our back yard and 1 at Dad's house).  And I plan to help clean up a park on Saturday.

Enjoy Earth Day everyone!  Leave a comment on what you are doing to celebrate!

And remember, the Farmers Market in Minneapolis opens this week - the Nicollet Mall Market is open today and the main market opens on Saturday!!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's For Dinner?

A few years ago I took a series of cooking classes at The Kitchen Window in Uptown. I already knew how to cook but at that time most of my cooking was actually preparing something that came out of a box.

I now know that not really cooking. I also now know that it is impossible to completely understand and control how much sodium you are taking in if all you do is cook from a box.

While in that class I decided I would try everything we prepared. The classes were not cheap but we got dinner at the end. I was my goal to take at least two bites of everything we prepared.

In the end I honed my knife skills, learned how to poach, fry, flambé, and braise, how to make my own mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette, kitchen safety, and that I really do like Salmon and Asparagus and Crème Brule.

I also validated my hatred for beets. And raw tomatoes. And raw onion.

All of this was worth the class. But most importantly I realized that I really do enjoy cooking.

I still have a million excuses why I don't want to cook on a nightly basis. The kitchen is too messy, I didn't thaw any meat, I don't want to clean up after.

These excuses caused us to eat out way too much.

At the beginning of 2010 I evaluated our eating habits. I was horrified to realize that I was spending $100 a week at the grocery store and another $60 to $80 a week on dining out.

That was enough for me to want to change my ways.

An added benefit was how quickly I dropped 10 pounds by simply eating at home every night. And the night we picked up Burger King only to feel really gross after eating it sealed the deal.
My goal is to eat at home 6 nights a week and to pack lunches every day. So far we are doing really well and I lost another 5 pounds!

On this blog, I am going to post what we had for dinner nightly. I hope this will help some of you out there get some new ideas to incorporate into your rotation. I get most of my dinner ideas from The Pioneer Woman and from a number of cook books I have in my kitchen. I will post a link or list the recipe.
It would be great if you left a comment to let me know if you tried the recipe and what you thought of it. Also, if you have something you think we should try, let me know!
I will review each meal and let you know which parts the kids liked or didn't, which parts my Picky Brother In Law liked or didn't, and which parts the other three adults liked or didn't.
I hope this becomes a segment you enjoy!

Silly Heidi - Picture One

Heidi is a total ham when the camera comes out so I have a million pictures that look like this for every one that it perfect.

Ree over at Pioneer Woman does a Name That Photo Contest and gives out things she finds in her junk drawer.  Unfortunately all I have in my junk drawer are dead batteries and half burned birthday candles which I doubt anyone wants.

But if you want to offer a name for this picture do so in the comments section.  It could be fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti Review

I have recently become addicted to Ree's Pioneer Woman blog.  If you have not checked it out you don't know what you are missing.

This woman lives on a working cattle ranch with her husband and four children, maintains a blog, writes cook books, homeschools her children, and belches on queue.

This is also the blog where last nights dinner recipe came from.

I loved it!  Shawn loved it!  Jess loved it!  Ryan and the kids?  Not so much.

Chicken Spaghetti Ingredient List:
2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Finely Diced Green Pepper
¼ cups Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Ree says this feeds 8.  In my house it fed 4 adults, 3 children, and 2 adults for lunch today.  I forgot to throw in the garlic bread because we had some friends drop in.  I also didn't pair it with a vegie because it has a lot of vegies in it and I was feeling lazy.

Ree posts step by step photo directions on her site and explains what to do with these ingredients (click here to view). If you want to see a final picture, she has that as well.  We ate ours to fast for me to snap a photo and I don't want to completely plagerize her post! 

Try it this week and then leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!

Girls Day at Como Part Two

As promised, today's post is about Big Cats and Primates. My favorite part of the zoo. Oh, wait, I already said the Tropical Trail was my favorite. Who am I kidding? It's all my favorite!

This is Chloe.

She is a three toed sloth.

She lives in a tree in the Tropical Trail.

Sans cage.

Good thing she is so slow!

Every time we see Chloe she is in the same spot. Sometimes she is being a good girl and sleeping. Other times she is scratching herself in not to be mentioned places. Today, she was a good girl.

Don't believe any of the volunteers if they tell you this is Armando.  There is no Armando.  I am not sure what made the volunteer last fall tell us there was a Chole and an Armando but it was all cleared up over the winter.  We inquired as to which slot was out today only to have the zoo worker tell us there is only one three toed sloth that lives in the Trail.  Apparently Armando is the name of the guide mentioned in the story that is posted along the Trail.  Apparently the volunteers need better training!

Now.  Look at this pretty lady.  She looks like Daisy.

Well.  Not just like Daisy.  Since Daisy is a dog.  And this is a lion.  And Daisy is 120 pounds.  And Lion is a lot more than 120 pounds.  But you know what I mean.  This is one of Daisy's favorite Lounging In The Yard positions.

This pretty lady is sleeping just like Pete does.  It is amazing to me how closely related this lady is to my Pete and Eddie.

This handsome man is in need of a rest. About 10 minutes before this picture was taken he let out the loudest growl I have heard in my life. We later read that a male lion’s growl can be heard up to 10 miles across the prairie. Turns out he was being quiet!
Our favorite time to visit Como Zoo is in the winter.  Living in Minnesota we do not have Elephants in our zoo.  It is too cold.  And like I mentioned before, we have to go in the smelly building to see the hoofed animals. 
We do, however, get to have Siberian Tigers and Polar Bears and Gray Wolves.  The Polar Bears are getting a new exhibit right now but they are due back in early June (I can't wait!  I want to be at the door welcoming them!)
The Siberian Tigers are incredible in the winter.  In the summer they lay around and sun tan all day.  It is rare to see them moving around.  In the winter, they are out playing and pacing.  I could watch them for hours, days even.
This trip was in the spring.  It was about 65 degrees out.  The Tiger spent our visit pacing.  Not as much fun as winter but way better than summer!
Look how skinny he is.  Look how big those feet are.  Don't you just want to hug him?  No?  Me neither...
Last in the Big Cat House was the Cougar (or Puma or Mountain Lion or Panther or (our favorite) Catamount).
This beauty can come live with me any time. 
Or maybe not. Look at those feet!! Look at that nose!! I am always amazed by their tails. I am certain my cats are very closely related to this fella. Cousins or something.
Here's a cutie for you.  Enjoying snack number 4 for the day.  Sorry kid, we are out of food now.
On to the Primates!
Who knew the Gorilla's Scientific Name is Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla?  Not me!
The Gorilla's were outside in the play yard.  They are getting a new habitat in the near future - Yeah Gorilla's, you are my favorite (don't tell them I have said that before...)  This guy might get mad.
And he has already talked to me once.
After reading this sign to Heidi, Mr. Gorilla said "Ooohh, Ooohh, Ooohh!!!"  He was almost louder then the lion!  I guess he wanted me to know he was not kidding around!  Or he was mad that Heidi finished off the snacks before we got here...  One will never know.
Orangutans!  My favorite!  This is another exibit I would happly sit and watch all day.  But today they were boring.
Amanda, the painting Orangutan was napping.  So was Daddy Orangutan.  Momma and baby were hanging out but Momma seemed a bit crabby and baby wasn't doing anything cool.  I guess they can't be on every day.
 No worries, Orangutans, you are still my favorite. 
Our next trip is planned for June.  When the Polar Bears are back.  The rides are open.  And the Sparky Show is on.  I can't wait!  Did you know I love the zoo?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Girls Day at Como Part One

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the zoo?  Oh, yes, I have.

After spending a week working in our Ohio office I took a day off to spend with Heidi.  Shannon suggested we go to the zoo and invited herself along.  This is normal Shannon behavior.

Other normal Shannon behavior is wearing flippers (a Heidi term) when we plan to walk a lot and then encouraging Heidi to do the same.

I like the contrast here.  Heidi certainly has Shawn's olive complexion.  Not the pasty white skin Shannon and I were blessed with!

Heidi was not particularly excited to see the flowers and after my bad allergy week (who knew Dayton OH was the pollen capital of the world?!) I was happy to skip the conservatory. Most trips we make Heidi enjoy the conservatory before she gets to see the animals. I know, we are mean parents.

Our trip to the Zoo started in the Tropical Trail, one of my favorite exibits.

As we entered the exibit there was a sign that said "no food or drink allowed."  This caused Heidi to worry about the next time she would eat and all of a sudden she is STARVING and HAS to have a banana RIGHT NOW!

She is almost done when a zoo worker appears down the trail.  She eyes him up to see if she is going to get caught in a No Eating Zone.

Now that she has eaten the first of what would be four snacks over the two hours we visited the zoo, she is ready to move on.

Oh, look! Turtles! What is the difference between a Turtle and a Tortoise?

A turtle lives mostly in and near water.  They swim and have legs that look like flippers.

A Tortoise does not have to live near water and stands all on it's legs.  Is there anyone who has been to Como Zoo and does not have this picture of them on the Tortoise?

Next stop!  The Smelly Hoofed Animal Building.  They let them outside when it's above 50 degrees both day and night.  Until then they spend their says stinking up a perfectly good building.

This poor Zebra was all alone.  Her friends were in another part of the building. 

I have never seen a Zebra lay like this.  It reminds me of my dog Daisy.  Does she look prego to you?

If not, they need to get her up walking because she is really letting herself go.

Oh, the baby giraffe!

She was a baby last spring.  She looks to be about 9 or 10 feet tall now.

And her Momma!  What a tall lady.  Shannon was explaining to Heidi how tall the giraffe is.  Put this into perspective.  Her stomach starts at over 6 feet tall.  That means that Shannon and I can stand under her belly without our heads touching her at all.  WOW!

More Tortoises!!

Look, another one!  Man, I would love one of these in my house.  Looks like a good foot stool.

Tomorrow - Big Cats and Primates!  Stay tuned...